Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dear Mommy

Dear Mommy,

As I watch you from Heaven, I wanted to tell you a few things:

Don't feel bad when you cry. I know you miss me and I know it's one of the few ways you have to express how much you love me since I'm not there with you. And never feel bad for laughing and being happy! I'm always happy to see joy on your face.

When you smile a smile that never quite reaches your eyes, I still see it and I'm smiling back at you hoping to ease your soul.

When you feel that empty ache in your arms, try to see all the hugs and kisses I send you from Heaven. They don't come to you in the same form, but they're there. That bright rainbow in the sky was a big bear hug from me! And don't worry about me, I'm in the arms of the Angels and Saints and on the lap of our Father. It will never feel good enough for you, but I promise it's good enough for me! 

The next time you feel at the brink of tears, when you feel in such pain, remember that the only thing I'll ever feel is love. While I can see your sadness, I can not feel it. There is no such thing where I am.

I don't like it when you feel guilty. You didn't do anything wrong, in fact you gave me wings. I know it wasn't your choice to let me go, but you did and you're still standing. I wish you could see your strength the way I do. You'll never be able to see what a gift you've given me because it's so hard for you to imagine the life I have in Heaven, but one day we'll be together and I'll take you by the hand and show it all to you.

When you have those days where you feel totally and completely alone, you're not. I see you and I'm watching out for you as best I can. I can feel your love for me even still, whether you're happy or sad. When others have moved on, I know you'll still remember. 

That day when you saw the newborn baby at the park, I saw the hurt that you felt deep inside. I know you long to hold me, to smell my little head, to plant kisses on my cheeks. But never forget that even though you can't do those things, I'm still with you and I'm still finding ways to send you my love. So keep looking for those rainbows, those butterflies and those shooting stars because I'll keep sending you love and never worry about whether or not I feel yours because I most certainly do each and every day!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Special "Hello" From Gabriel On Fathers Day

June is a fiesta at our house. We have Brendan's birthday June 3, Kieran June 7, Shawn (my husband) June 13 and then Father's day. So many years have passed that Shawn never had the celebration he deserved. I was determined this year each person would celebrate his birthday in a special way…….and that Father's day would be as I had always pictured it :)

Ah yes, I always have this picture of "how it should be" the expectation of perfection. Well, it was that and then some. We had so much home made fun for all of the birthdays with games and cake. All seven kids came home for each birthday and we had a ball! By Sunday morning we were all a bit weary from lake water, cake and camp fire smoke! But we set the alarm got up and went to 11 am Mass. This may seem like a late mass but have you ever tried to herd nine people to the same place "looking good" before noon? It's an accomplishment. We have been frequenting the 5pm Sunday Mass - so this was nothing short of a miracle. Our church is under construction, so we are in folding chairs in the 'Faith & Family" center. We all piled into a row on the far right. We are sitting and praying. I looked over my far left shoulder and there he was. The man who eight years ago was on the other side of the curtain as I was recovering from having Gabriel. He didn't mean to but he overheard our conversation over what has happened to Gabriel's body (he was handed to my husband in a bio hazard bag). He was witness to one of the most private moments of our married life. I knew someone was on the other side of that curtain. This is why we were VERY quietly talking. I saw the man leave the area. Then he came back. He walked right up to my bed… He very kindly said " I didn't mean to hear your conversation".....he paused as tears came to his face " but I just wanted to tell you I am so sorry for your loss". He handed me a box and walked away. In the box was a beautiful gold angel lapel pin. I CHERISH this pin. We knew when he approached my bed that we had seen him before. Now I know where I saw Adoration in our church.

Hello Gabriel, so sweet of you to show your Daddy the PERFECT gift. The gift you have left for us to share. The gift of unconditional love.

I still don't know the name of this man. That's what makes this so special. We made eye contact on Sunday, he knew who I was and I knew who he was........I smiled right at him and he smiled back. Nothing else needed to be said. This made Shawn's day.

Happy Father's Day Shawn Paul Malone!!! We all love you DEARLY!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Honoring the Broken Dreams

This post has been entirely inspired by something one of the mothers said to me at our mother to mother group this month when discussing a grief book. A part that really spoke to her was that a big part of grief is having broken dreams. And when you've lost your baby, that's probably the biggest majority of what your grief is. Certainly we miss our baby but we never really got to know them, to see what kind of people they'd become. From the moment you see that pregnancy test turn positive your head is flooded with dreams of this new life.

When will he be due? He'll be so little at Christmas, such a fun age by Summer! Will he have the same handsome face as his daddy? Will she have Mommy's curly hair? What will it be like to watch her grow up?

All these questions that we'll never have answers to. Sometimes I look at my son Kevin and I wonder if Henry would have looked just like him. I imagine he would, I have photos where my two kids could be twins even though they're two years apart! Would he have had that same belly laugh and that same flare for creativity and drama? Would he also have had blonde hair? Would he prefer Batman or Captain America? (a common debate in this house!)

So the point of the discussion became how can we acknowledge those broken dreams but also how can we honor them.

I've approached a time of year that I've been dreading. The time of year Henry should have been born. His due date was July 1 but I knew I would have been induced early for medical reasons and so I never had a real attachment to that date. In my mind, by the time July 1 rolled around I'd already be home with him.

But hearing this talk of how to honor my broken dreams really inspired something inside of me. A big part of my grief has been that no one got to know my son. I didn't even get to know my son besides those gentle little pokes I felt from the inside, and that for about four weeks all he seemed to want me to eat was popsicles and peanut butter sandwiches. That's all I get. I often feel grief at the fact that he can be so easily forgotten. I know no one in my family will forget him, but he had no chance to make an impact. No one can ever start a sentence with, "Remember the time when Henry....."

So what can I do to honor all of those broken dreams? What can I do to help give him more of a legacy? Well in part, reaching out to other mothers through this organization has been one thing, though honestly that feels like something that's more for me than for him because it's been so helpful to me.

So after some thought, I picked a random day at the end of this month. I have decided to make June 24 Henry's day. I hope it will be a yearly tradition, at least for a few years. I plan to do acts of kindness on this day. One thing I'd love to do is to repay some of the kindness we received from the doctors and nurses and staff at the hospital and the doctor's offices so we'll be dropping off some treat baskets and cards. I plan to go to the cemetery and bring flowers to some of the other babies that I know there. I'd like to plant some flowers.

I'd like to do even more but I haven't come up with other ideas just yet. This has become something that's very exciting to me. A day not to dread because he's not here, it's become a day I look forward to because he was here and I'm helping to make sure he's remembered and honored. Some good will come from his short little life on earth.

And to make it even bigger, I've invited my friends and family to do something as well that day. Whatever they want, big or small. And we're going to document it and make a scrapbook so that in the years to come, we can look back at all the good that's been done in Henry's name. Something good has to come from all of this pain. I can't let my only memories of him be sad ones.

So what are some ways that you can or have honored your shattered dreams? I'd love to hear what others have done or would like to do! Please leave comments!! And I encourage everyone to give this a try. It doesn't have to be a big day like I'm doing, it can be a small project, a garden in your yard, taking flowers somewhere. Something positive to do for your baby. Realize that we can still tie memories to their names, they don't have to fall silent and either do we!